A vestige of the formative days of state government, Governor's Council is generally a low-profile board. But it is an important one.
It has an impact on pardons and commutations and, most significantly, judicial appointments. Berkshire residents were reminded of the latter three years ago when the Council rejected the nomination of local attorney Michael McCarthy for a Berkshire District Court judgeship. The Council, which should be the epitome of an apolitical board, has for some time been tainted by political considerations.
The decision of District 8 (Western Massachusetts) councilor Michael Albano to not run for re-election has persuaded attorney Jeffrey Morneau and former judge Mary Hurley to run for the Democratic nomination. As no Republican or unenrolled candidate emerged, the winner of the party primary on Thursday, September 8 will become the new governor's councilor for the district in 2017.
Mr. Morneau, the president of the Hampden County Bar Association, is campaigning in part on a platform of ridding the Governor's Council of politics, and he has made efforts to make the judicial nomination process more apolitical. He serves on the Joint Bar Committee that reviews and reports to the Governor's Council on judicial nominees. Mr. Morneau has reached out to the Berkshire Bar Association to find good judicial candidates and opened up the nomination process through public hearings. In a visit to The Eagle, he promised to work to fill judicial vacancies in the region, in part by the elimination of "political grandstanding."
Ms. Hurley also promised The Eagle that she would work to eliminate politics from the Council and fill regional judicial vacancies. The mayor of Springfield before she became a district court judge for two decades (she is now retired), Ms. Hurley offers experience and insight into the inner workings of government and of the judicial system.
While Ms. Hurley promises she will be an apolitical councilor, Mr. Morneau's apolitical background has genuine appeal. In working to prepare potential nominees for judgeships he has been gaining insight into the Governor's Council and its procedures and by working with the Berkshire bar he is already involved in assisting local candidates to negotiate the judicial nomination process. He will be able to hit the ground running if elected. The Eagle endorses Jeffrey Morneau for Governor's Council from the Western District.